Back in the stone age (2005), a talented search optimization agency could rank any page for any term if given enough resources. In fact, that’s still the case, but you need even more resources and the results last a lot less time.
The oracle in Mountain View, California continued to spout out its wisdom of “create a great site” and “content is king”, but the shaman’s of SEO had their own remedies and they worked very well. In fact, for years, following the advice of Google meant you probably were not in the number 1 position for any competitive phrase.
In 2011 the first cold winds started to blow across the SEO landscape. Google’s cannonade over the past few years has turned the heathens into believers.
There were sites that always ranked well using the tenets from Google like Wikipedia, Amazon, The New York Times, Copyblogger, and Lifehacker. Sites that pumped out super-high quality content aimed at their audience. Their audience and the search engines rewarded them with traffic, ad revenue and top spots in the search engine results.
Starting in 2012 the places on the web that were once content to manipulate the system and rank high atop the house of cards are scrambling to start producing something of value that will attract the attention of the crowds they once took for granted. What they’re finding out is that it’s not easy.
A marathon, not a sprint
As the machine learning gets better, the only thing left is to make the web a better place. Each day Google processes 20 Petabytes of data. Yes, you read that right.
That includes about 5 billion searches each day. With 93% of all online session starting with a search and Google sending about 41% of ALL web traffic, it should be obvious that getting to a favorable position in the Google hierarchy is job 1.
Google wants to send people to pages on the web that are helpful. So if you’re ever stuck on “what content should I create?” try being helpful. Answer questions, give advice, make data easier to understand.
That takes time. You cannot become a juggernaut of content over a weekend. What you can do over a weekend is set a goal of creating remarkable, shareable and helpful content. Then on Monday morning, start executing the plan.
A perfect example of this is Marcus Sheridan’s story about when he started blogging at his fiberglass pool company a couple years ago. He wrote a piece called “How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?” because that was the first question everyone asked. Turns out that the next year that page accounted for over a million dollars worth of sales.
Content doesn’t have to be written
Not everyone can or wants to write 600 words every day, so find something else. Video, podcast or even public speaking that someone else writes about. Especially don’t underestimate the power of video and specifically YouTube.
Stop selling and start helping
Almost no one likes it when the satellite tv person approaches them inside of Best Buy, or the kitchen remodeling person in Home Depot every Saturday. Americans in general have most of what they need, we are now in the process of acquiring “stuff”. We don’t need to be sold “stuff”, we are looking for very particular stuff now. We are checking reviews, prices, asking our friends and doing 30 day trials before we buy.
You can no longer pressure us into purchasing your stuff, we only want our stuff. Even offering us 25% off doesn’t move the needle, Groupon has ruined normal discounting.
But, you can show us how cool and awesome your stuff is, share it with us, get our friends talking about it and then we won’t care what price your stuff is, we’ll have to have it.
Apple’s iPhone is always the example at this point, but there are many others to point to as well. The Blendtec (Will it blend) blender, Samsung S3, Best Made Company’s axes and Seth Godin’s books.
Why it works
The reason it works is because then your searchers come looking for YOU, not a keyword.